by Akriti Sharma
My brother and I were beside ourselves with excitement when the local dog kennel called to say our Boxer puppy was ready for his new home. Eager and impatient, we pleaded with our parents that they take us with them to go pick him up. My younger brother, Karan, was ready almost instantly, loading the car with toys and the dog basket we’d gotten to make sure everything was perfect for our puppy’s arrival.
My mother drove us through the narrow, winding streets of Kathmandu, expertly avoiding the countless motorbikes that wended their way through the traffic and the children and stray dogs that came running onto the street without warning. My brother sat beside me and went over the names he had in mind, not quite sure which one he liked best. Rex? Bruno? Or the staple name for a dog in Nepal, no matter what breed: Kaleh. He crossed off names from an imaginary list on his palm. “This is hard,” he said, “I want his name to be unique.” When we finally got our puppy twenty minutes later, Karan took one good look at our new family member and settled with the oh- so- original name for a Boxer puppy, ‘Tyson’.
Tyson was the youngest member of our family of 13, counting my parents, me, my brother, our four-year-old German Shepherd, Lucky, five fish, and two turtles. My parents claimed that our house was one lizard away from a zoo.
Tyson was a brat, cheerfully indulging in the pastimes of eating, chewing, sleeping, and pooping whenever and wherever he felt the need. He bullied Lucky terribly, but Lucky did nothing about it. Tyson never sat on the ground, always preferring the softness of Lucky’s tail. When Lucky tried to get some sleep, Tyson would paw at him and yelp until he woke up.
One day, Tyson went missing. We roamed the streets calling out his name, over and over again, into the dead of night. For a week, we searched in vain. I posted flyers around our neighborhood, offering a reward to anyone who found our beloved pup. A month passed. My brother sat by his window at night, calling his name, straining to hear a response. He’d asleep with his cheek pressed up against the cold window pane.
One Sunday morning, my mother got a phone call from a young child with an American accent. In one breathless sentence he explained that he had seen our flyer at the local bakery and noticed that the dog was peculiarly identical to the new boxer pup his gardener had “adopted.” In a couple of minutes his mother took the phone from him and apologized for her son’s impatience. My mother spoke to her for a good fifteen minutes before she hung up. She had a broad smile on her face as she turned to me. “Go get your brother,” she said, “and let’s bring his darling back home.”
Amazingly, the address was only seven houses away from our house. I passed it everyday on my way to school. My brother had stood before it countless times crying out Tyson’s name.
I rang the doorbell and was greeted by a middle-aged woman and a young boy, not much older than my brother, clinging to her waist. He pushed past his mother. “My mom asked me to get croissants this morning and I went with grandma but then I saw the picture of your dog and I knew it was him so I told grandma we had to come home quick and then”–he paused, drew in a deep breath–“I came running home and I forgot to get mom’s croissants! I called you because if anything happened to my dogs, Layla and Rose, I’d be very, very sad,”
The mother explained how their live-in-gardener had brought home an adorable puppy six weeks ago. He said that he was going to resell him. He was becoming too much of a hassle because of all his eating, chewing, pooping and relentless yelping. She turned to my mother. “I knew something was a bit off about that, he didn’t even have an answer when I asked him which kennel he got the pup from.”
In their garden were two beautiful female dogs, a Golden Retriever and a cream Labrador. Posed perfectly between them, sitting on both of their tails, was our brat. He was bigger, but looked the same. He perked up when he saw us and stared for a while, inching towards us. My brother could barely contain himself. He ran and simultaneously flung himself onto Tyson, who, in quick response, somehow managed to do the same. The other two dogs began barking, creating quite a ruckus.
My parents told me when I was younger that if you are determined to find something you really want, you’re bound to get it. At that point, it didn’t matter if it was my brother’s cries and prayers that got us our puppy back or just the kind-heartedness of another curious child, because our family was finally complete again. All thirteen members of our little zoo.
About a year later, I was in the kitchen pretending to help my mother as she fussed over dinner. She asked me to call my brother in, but I found the front lawn deserted. I stared at the wide open gate and got the sick feeling that something was wrong. I heard my brother scream, followed by a high-pitched howling. I found them both two blocks from my house in the middle of the street. The dimming yellow light emitted by the dying streetlight revealed a bloody body pulling into itself as it convulsed in pain. Our neighbors were on the street now, pushing to get a closer look.
I don’t know how I managed to pick up an injured dog and a crying brother, and walk home, but I did it somehow.
Tyson was paralyzed. About a month later, we put him to sleep.
Akriti Sharma is a senior at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, majoring in Economics. She grew up in Kathmandu, Nepal, and has been volunteering many years. She loves books and dogs, and she greatly misses her two German Shepherds back home.
Photo credit: Boxer puppy. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 16 Dec 2015. http://quest.eb.com/search/139_1914154/1/139_1914154/cite